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Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya contend with digital inclusion, South Korea extends verification

Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya contend with digital inclusion, South Korea extends verification

Authorities in South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Kenya are contending with multiple aspects of digital identity. South Korea plans to put in place a service for the mobile verification of ID cards and a World Bank report suggests that Indonesia take steps to ensure all of its citizens have access to digital technologies and services. Support for the recognition of the PhilID as the only valid proof of identity has been reiterated in the Philippines, while stakeholders are proposing improvements to Kenya’s digital ID system to reduce exclusion and address human rights issues.

Mobile ID verification service in South Korea

South Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Safety says it will soon be possible for citizens to verify ID cards through their smartphones using an administrative service app run by the government, writes Korea Bizwire.

According to the Ministry, the necessary infrastructure will be built within the first six months of next year so that citizens can confirm their identity using their phones, without the need to present physical ID cards, the report notes.

This mobile verification, authorities say, can be done by the individual simply showing basic information from their cards such as name, resident registration number, address and the card issuing agency.

While the government has given assurances about the safety and privacy of data used via the service, it has disclosed that the mobile digital ID verification will be used mostly for drinking age checks, the submission of civil documents, during boarding for air and sea travel, as well as other private transactions.

More digital inclusion suggested in Indonesia

A World Bank report titled “Beyond Unicorns: Harnessing Digital Technologies for Inclusion in Indonesia,” has called on Indonesian authorities to match the country’s status of the fastest growing digital economy in South East Asia with efforts to ensure more citizens get access to digital technologies which are beneficial to them, reports India Education Diary.

The outlet cites the World Bank report as suggesting three things which Indonesia must do in order to leverage digital inclusion. These include boosting digital connectivity and universalizing access to high quality internet, ensuring that the digital economy works for and benefits all, and using digital technologies to provide improved public services to citizens.

“Addressing the digital divide goes beyond efforts to reduce the connectivity gap. It will be crucial to help citizens develop the skills to maximize digital opportunities, especially for better jobs. At the same time, it is equally important for the government to address the challenges related to regulations and business environment to enable firms to innovate and compete effectively,” India Education Diary quoted World Bank Country Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste Satu Kahkonen as saying.

The report also calls on Indonesia to close the internet divide between urban and rural communities as well as put in place a national digital ID framework that will enable citizens to seamlessly and securely prove their identity online.

“There are a whole host of opportunities to use digital technologies for promoting better healthcare delivery, and improving access among the underserved but these need to be built on a base of reliable and interoperable data systems. The pandemic has generated an unprecedented urgency to make this a reality and has also created a momentum to expedite adoption of digital technologies,” said Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

PhilID card reiterated as tool for financial inclusion

The Philippines national ID card (PhilID) has been described as a key tool for the promotion of financial inclusion and a springboard for economic growth, according to a report by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno was quoted as saying during the 2021 Outstanding BSP Stakeholders Appreciation Ceremony that they were in full support of the Philippines Identification System (PhilSys), which is helping solve problems related to ID, the lack of which has resulted in financial exclusion for many Filipinos.

“Our goal is to shift from a cash heavy to a cash light society where at least half of financial transactions are done digitally. By 2023, our other goal is that at least 70 percent of the adult population should have financial accounts. The PhilSys will be a strategic enabler for a more inclusive new economy, bringing us closer to our shared vision of prosperity for all,” said Governor Diokno.

He restated the BSP’s support for the PSA as it pushes ahead with the PhilSys program which has already seen the issuance of millions of PhilIDs as well as the creation of millions of bank accounts by hitherto unbanked Filipinos.

Improvements recommended for Kenya’s digital ID system

A publication by Research ICT Africa (RIA) within the framework of its BIO-ID project, which monitors the digital ID systems in 10 African countries, has examined the shortcomings of the Huduma Namba system in Kenya and suggested ways in which it can be improved.

According to the RIA’s findings, there is the need for Kenya to focus registration for the digital identity among poor and marginalized people who are said to constitute the largest percentage of those who lack legal identification documents.

Kenya, the report adds, must not focus only on numbers but adopt a more holistic and inclusive approach which also factors in issues around human rights such as being able to protect people from the dangers that may arise from the use of their identity data.

In an interview that is part of a series of the RIA project, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and research fellow with the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore University, Grace Mutungu’u, states that too much of the politics surrounding ID spells danger for vulnerable and marginalized groups.

“Any new identity system should first resolve longstanding problems for those who have difficulties accessing the document and prioritize those without any identification…Since we have experience with security agencies using national ID to deny people freedom of movement, arrest them and threaten them, the new ID system ought to be conceptualized from a different paradigm,” said Mutungu’u in the interview.

Kenya’s Huduma Namba project has been rocked by controversy since its launch. In the past, groups, such as the Nubian Rights Forum, have called for certain reforms in order that millions of citizens are not marginalized by or excluded from the system.

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